An alternative to killing feral cats in order to protect wallabies

Historically, Australian authorities kill feral cats to protect native species which includes wallabies. It's understandable but it is a negative solution particularly when the killing is carried out with a complete disregard for the pain inflicted. 

The Daily Science website reports an alternative method which I would like to disseminate in the interests of the welfare of feral cats. They say that a program called "head start" doubled the population of the critically endangered bridled nail tail wallabies in the Avocat Nature Refuge in Queensland. What they mean by this is that they protect the young Wallabies against predation by feral cats until they are adult enough to be able to escape and survive.

Mad bad and sick as far as I am concerned. Man carries tabby feral cat back to where? He's just shot it at night. He's having great fun saving Australia from native species Armageddon at the hands of feral cats. He is a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia with a cat he shot. Photo: Adam Ferguson for The New York Times
Mad bad and sick as far as I am concerned. Man carries tabby feral cat back to where? He's just shot it at night. He's having great fun saving Australia from native species Armageddon at the hands of feral cats. He is a member of the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia with a cat he shot. Photo: Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

Specifically, the researchers placed individual wallabies weighing less than 3 kg together with their nursing mothers in a 9.2-hectare enclosure which was free of predators except for birds of prey and some other predators, which are unspecified. They allowed them to live there over a three-year period beginning in 2015.

The mothers raised 56 wallabies in the enclosure and they found that the head start program more than doubled the population of wallabies over three years. There are 16 core members which increased to 47 of which 21 were inside the head start enclosure and 26 were outside. The survival rate of young wallabies increased, in that 15/20 juveniles (75%) survived past the age of weaning in the enclosure compared to only 3/12 (25%) in the wild.

Wallaby
Wallaby. Photo: Science Direct.

The researchers have estimated that the Avocet wallabies will become extinct within two years but for the head start program. They said that until they have a way to eliminate feral cats in the wild the head start program is a good idea.

I've written a lot about Australia and suggested many other ways of controlling the feral cat population size other than brutal killing in any way possible. If you are interested you can read some of these articles by clicking on this link.

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